I retired before 2008, before building permits in the Interior of BC fell to one half and then to one third of what they were. My plan for a nice monthly cheque from the 20-year-old roof truss business went all to hell. After scaling costs down including slashing my monthly draw to one third of what it used to be, the nest egg was still evaporating, the business had to be wound up, people had to be put out of work, and the income abandoned.
Instead, here I am writing from the South Okanagan, not my home on Vancouver Island. I laid off my friend who designed trusses and took his job, partnered with the foreman, accepted seeing my sweetheart only every third weekend, went to a sixty hour (mostly unpaid) work week, and took to camping in the old shop because the rent is free. After two months of new, leaner policy, the business is reviving. Prices had to drop 20%, we became aggressive to win the small amount of work in our area, and sales are starting a sharp up-turn.
Don’t look to me for sympathy when you have a nice job with a company pension, dental benefits, seniority and paid holidays. When you hear that the economy is down a few percent, remember that it is down 50% for people on EI and as much or more for others who lost investments. The figures you read are average figures. Almost everybody is putting along just below the usual. A smaller portion of the population has taken deep body blows to their finances but soldiers on.
Don’t look to me for sympathy about how low the minimum wage is. The minimum wage means the boss in this small business cleans the toilet himself. (Not me in the picture). The minimum wage means I don’t hire a $5/hour guy to work ten minutes out of every hour carrying finished trusses, even though he could spend the rest of the time doing anything he wants near by. The minimum wage means a lot of unemployed teenagers. It means seniors who don’t bring a couple hundred extra dollars a week home to supplement their pension. Every hire I ever made has been for more than the minimum wage and no one made me do it.
When someone figures they are worth $70,000 a year or their credentials entitle them to a top position, I don’t give a hoot. Your spouse may be willing to trade all their earthly goods for the joy of being with you but you’re worth nothing in the job market unless you are doing something other people want and will pay for.
I’m back to work like a lot of other older boomers and having fun too. Design, sales and innovation are exciting, even if blogging is a little irregular as a result.